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Survival Lessons

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Fifteen years ago, Alice Hoffman received a diagnosis that changed everything about the life she'd been living. Most significant, aside from the grueling physical ordeal she underwent, was the way it changed how she felt inside and what she thought she ought to be doing with her days. Now she has written the book that she needed to read then. In this honest, wise, and upbe Fifteen years ago, Alice Hoffman received a diagnosis that changed everything about the life she'd been living. Most significant, aside from the grueling physical ordeal she underwent, was the way it changed how she felt inside and what she thought she ought to be doing with her days. Now she has written the book that she needed to read then. In this honest, wise, and upbeat guide, Alice Hoffman provides a road map for the making of one's life into the very best it can be. As she says, "In many ways I wrote this book to remind myself of the beauty of life, something that's all too easy to overlook during the crisis of illness or loss. There were many times when I forgot about roses and starry nights. I forgot that our lives are made up of equal parts sorrow and joy, and that it's impossible to have one without the other. . . . I wrote to remind myself that in the darkest hour the roses still bloom, the stars still come out at night. And to remind myself that, despite everything that was happening to me, there were still some choices I could make.


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Fifteen years ago, Alice Hoffman received a diagnosis that changed everything about the life she'd been living. Most significant, aside from the grueling physical ordeal she underwent, was the way it changed how she felt inside and what she thought she ought to be doing with her days. Now she has written the book that she needed to read then. In this honest, wise, and upbe Fifteen years ago, Alice Hoffman received a diagnosis that changed everything about the life she'd been living. Most significant, aside from the grueling physical ordeal she underwent, was the way it changed how she felt inside and what she thought she ought to be doing with her days. Now she has written the book that she needed to read then. In this honest, wise, and upbeat guide, Alice Hoffman provides a road map for the making of one's life into the very best it can be. As she says, "In many ways I wrote this book to remind myself of the beauty of life, something that's all too easy to overlook during the crisis of illness or loss. There were many times when I forgot about roses and starry nights. I forgot that our lives are made up of equal parts sorrow and joy, and that it's impossible to have one without the other. . . . I wrote to remind myself that in the darkest hour the roses still bloom, the stars still come out at night. And to remind myself that, despite everything that was happening to me, there were still some choices I could make.

30 review for Survival Lessons

  1. 4 out of 5

    karen

    okay, bitches, i'm off to fight cancer again! thanks to everyone who has been kind to me, and i'm sorry i've been so distracted lately. this is not the kind of book i would ordinarily read - on first glance, it seems like the kind of touchy-feely sentimental stuff i tend to avoid because i am a robot and all, but it was sent as part of a care package from the kind kind people of goodreads when i was going through my cancerish surgery over the summer, and GR-staffer suzanne said that alice munro okay, bitches, i'm off to fight cancer again! thanks to everyone who has been kind to me, and i'm sorry i've been so distracted lately. this is not the kind of book i would ordinarily read - on first glance, it seems like the kind of touchy-feely sentimental stuff i tend to avoid because i am a robot and all, but it was sent as part of a care package from the kind kind people of goodreads when i was going through my cancerish surgery over the summer, and GR-staffer suzanne said that alice munro told her this was the book she wished she had had when she was going through her own cancer battle. so i gave it a shot, because i was so grateful and bewildered that the place i have lovingly come to think of as my second home actually cared back. and while much of it is advice that i cannot or will not apply to my own life, there's something satisfyingly honest in reading how someone else dealt with their obstacles and remained chipper and willing to give back to fans who might be going through a similar struggle. although my own circumstances were much less severe than hoffman's (knock three month's worth of wood), the sentiment was still appreciated, in the way her experiences made her both vulnerable and strong. so i am taking some wine-drenched moments on this lovely thanksgiving evening to say "thank you" to the goodreads employees who so thoughtfully reached out to me, and for all of you here who sent well-wishes during my crummiest moments and who every day make even the not-crummy times better. i love you all, my little booknerd buddies, and i embrace you with sloppy drunken sincerity and well-wishes times a billion. may you never need to survive anything. come to my blog!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jon Nakapalau

    A powerful look at how to cope with a life altering condition (breast cancer) while still trying to live in the here and now; to be able to see the light when surrounded by shadowed questions is a lesson that Alice shares with the reader in a clam yet urgent way.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jinnie

    Somebody, somewhere will no doubt get comfort out of this very slim book. I was not one of those people. Did you know when you're struck with a serious, life-threatening illness you should surround yourself with people who love you? Do the things you've always wanted to do? Buy a puppy - but make sure someone is around to walk it when you can't, and promise to care for it if you die? The book was filled with these gems. I don't doubt this work of non-fiction arose out of Hoffman's personal exper Somebody, somewhere will no doubt get comfort out of this very slim book. I was not one of those people. Did you know when you're struck with a serious, life-threatening illness you should surround yourself with people who love you? Do the things you've always wanted to do? Buy a puppy - but make sure someone is around to walk it when you can't, and promise to care for it if you die? The book was filled with these gems. I don't doubt this work of non-fiction arose out of Hoffman's personal experiences overcoming cancer, but a lot of what she had to say came from a place of privilege and felt trite.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Hoffman wrote this slim (83 pages) volume 15 years after her own bout with breast cancer to encourage anyone going through a crisis. Each chapter title begins with the word “Choose” – a reminder that, even when you can’t choose your circumstances, you can choose your response. For instance, “Choose Whose Advice to Take” and “Choose to Enjoy Yourself.” This has been beautifully put together with blue-tinted watercolor-effect photographs and an overall yellow and blue theme (along with deckle edge Hoffman wrote this slim (83 pages) volume 15 years after her own bout with breast cancer to encourage anyone going through a crisis. Each chapter title begins with the word “Choose” – a reminder that, even when you can’t choose your circumstances, you can choose your response. For instance, “Choose Whose Advice to Take” and “Choose to Enjoy Yourself.” This has been beautifully put together with blue-tinted watercolor-effect photographs and an overall yellow and blue theme (along with deckle edge pages – a personal favorite book trait). It’s a sweet little memoir with a self-help edge, and I think most people would appreciate being given a copy. The only element that felt a bit out of place was the five-page knitting pattern for a hat. Though very similar to Cathy Rentzenbrink’s A Manual for Heartache, this is that tiny bit better. Favorite lines: “Make a list of what all you have loved in this unfair and beautiful world.” “When I couldn’t write about characters that didn’t have cancer and worried I might never get past this single experience, my oncologist told me that cancer didn’t have to be my entire novel. It was just a chapter.” “Your sorrow will become smaller, like a star in the daylight that you can’t even see. It’s there, shining, but there is also a vast expanse of blue sky.”

  5. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl McNeil

    This is a tiny book. Like, you will finish it in a little over an hour. At first I thought, no one who isn’t already terribly famous would be able to get away with this at a publishing house. All the rest of us have to shoot for the 40,000 word minimum. But after reading the book, I was no longer miffed. There is purpose and effectiveness that would be impossible without brevity. Hoffman — one of my favorite fiction writers — survived breast cancer 15 years ago. This isn’t a breast cancer memoir This is a tiny book. Like, you will finish it in a little over an hour. At first I thought, no one who isn’t already terribly famous would be able to get away with this at a publishing house. All the rest of us have to shoot for the 40,000 word minimum. But after reading the book, I was no longer miffed. There is purpose and effectiveness that would be impossible without brevity. Hoffman — one of my favorite fiction writers — survived breast cancer 15 years ago. This isn’t a breast cancer memoir, but rather a compilation of things Hoffman learned — about what is important in life, and how best to live it — through surviving cancer. With its small size and few pages, this book might on first glance seem to fit into the market for aphorisms and devotionals, those little gift books on the sale tables at Barnes and Noble, the books that end up on our mother’s and grandmother’s night stands. The ones filled with gag-worthy cliches that make you want to rip out the pages and shred them into itty bitty bits for presuming to reduce our pain into measurable portions that can be handily contained with truths too clever to be true. But no. No. Hoffman’s book is NOT one of these. You will read it and be surprised by the relief you feel. You will give it as gifts. These gifts will end up on night stands. And there will be many people who sleep just a little bit better because a writer of beautiful words has understood their suffering: that pain, to be reduced, cannot be dismissed. There are many self-help books out there that take hours and days to plod through for the small morsels we can take away and use. But in just an hour, you can read Survival Lessons and absorb every word, with no need to discard the tedious and superfluous. Advance Reader’s Copy provided by BEA (and signed by Hoffman herself, who indeed was, upon meeting, the lovely person I had believed her to be from her writing). http://libraryshelfblog.wordpress.com...

  6. 4 out of 5

    Mary Chrapliwy

    This book was short, but mighty. It was beautifully written, as all Alice Hoffman's books are, and it touched me so deeply that it made me cry. Alice Hoffman's writing is like reading poetry. She uses metaphor and simile just enough to give more weight and beauty to her words. I have enjoyed numerous works of Hoffman's fiction, so when I had the opportunity to read this book, I was delighted. This book was a little under 100 pages. Don't let the short length scare you away, the sparse pages are b This book was short, but mighty. It was beautifully written, as all Alice Hoffman's books are, and it touched me so deeply that it made me cry. Alice Hoffman's writing is like reading poetry. She uses metaphor and simile just enough to give more weight and beauty to her words. I have enjoyed numerous works of Hoffman's fiction, so when I had the opportunity to read this book, I was delighted. This book was a little under 100 pages. Don't let the short length scare you away, the sparse pages are brimming with wisdom. This has been a tough year for my family and, though none of us has had the dreaded diagnosis of breast cancer, we have had some very difficult times. I was able to relate to many things Hoffman said in this book and found such inspiration and joy in the pages, that I shared the experience with friends. This is a magical book that lit the flame of hope in my heart.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Michele Harrod

    Alice could write a note and leave it on my bench telling me she was popping out for coffee - and I know it would be delightful. This is 83 pages of grace, as Alice reflects on the things she learned while going through cancer treatment. It's like a tiny pocket guide to remind you of the things in life that are worth living for. And how living can be done so beautifully... with a glitter pen and a note book. A great brownie recipe or a faithful puppy. The simplicity alone made this little gem ex Alice could write a note and leave it on my bench telling me she was popping out for coffee - and I know it would be delightful. This is 83 pages of grace, as Alice reflects on the things she learned while going through cancer treatment. It's like a tiny pocket guide to remind you of the things in life that are worth living for. And how living can be done so beautifully... with a glitter pen and a note book. A great brownie recipe or a faithful puppy. The simplicity alone made this little gem extraordinary to me. I just know that if I were to write a book, advising my friends of ways to survive the toughest of days, I would tell them to read Alice Hoffman. Her books, her letters, blogs, or the notes she might leave on a bench....whatever you were lucky enough to get your hands on. Because each one holds something pure and magical that simply fills your heart with inexplicable joy. I am so immensely grateful every time I hold a Hoffman in my hand - and I cannot thank her enough for surviving. For continuing to provide me the experience of pleasure I feel - as my breath is taken away by a single sentence. Or my heart filled to bursting with a gentle image only Alice Hoffman can paint - as my eyes skim the words that she seems to write directly to my heart. Simple as that.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Renégade ♥

    4 stars

  9. 4 out of 5

    Natalie Serber

    I’m not going to lie, I picked up Alice Hoffman’s new book, "Survival Lessons," with a mixture of hope and trepidation. Hope that her exploration of her breast cancer journey would resonate with me in the wake of my own recent breast cancer experience. Hope that she would put into words some of my own feelings, my fears, and I might feel known. Trepidation, or maybe flat-out fear, that the book would come to a bad end, or that I would somehow not be able to connect and would end up feeling more I’m not going to lie, I picked up Alice Hoffman’s new book, "Survival Lessons," with a mixture of hope and trepidation. Hope that her exploration of her breast cancer journey would resonate with me in the wake of my own recent breast cancer experience. Hope that she would put into words some of my own feelings, my fears, and I might feel known. Trepidation, or maybe flat-out fear, that the book would come to a bad end, or that I would somehow not be able to connect and would end up feeling more alone in my experience, rather than part of a community. The first thing I did was look for the author photo and was happy to see a robust and vibrant woman smiling back at me. Right away in the preface I felt connected to Hoffman as she describes, upon finding the lump in her breast, feeling that "these things didn’t happen to me." She goes on to say, "I was not someone who got cancer. In fact, I was the person who sat by bedsides, accompanied friends to doctor’s appointments." My reaction to my diagnosis was similar. Even with the incredible rates of breast cancer in the U.S., it is hard to believe it when it happens to you. Hoffman goes on to say, "I forgot that our lives are made up of equal parts sorrow and joy, at that it is impossible to have one without the other. This is what makes us human." According to the flap copy, "Survival Lessons" "provides a road map to reclaim your life from this day forward." Each short chapter offers an edict on how to live. Hoffman tells us to choose our friends, choose our heroes, to accept sorrow and to claim our past, which of course are all wonderful things to do in order to live a full life no matter what your struggle. In the chapter about friends, Hoffman talks about the ways in which people will surprise you and some heartbreakingly disappoint you. Some friends, she says, won’t be able to be by your side. "These people have their own history and traumas; they may not be able to deal with yours. They belong to the before." These words were a solace to me, as I did have important people in my life fall away. Hoffman talks about the gift of the people in the "after." "The ones who aren’t afraid of sorrow, who know we can’t avoid it. The best we can do is face it together." A book like this, a self-help-meditation-survivorship-guide, is a curious thing. It is an act of generosity by the writer, to offer a hand through a dark time, (and in this case, to donate all the proceeds to the Hoffman Breast Center at Mt. Auburn Hospital). It is also a responsibility. People come to the book seeking solace and hence, the potential to miss the mark is weightier. Where I felt the book failed me was in its very light touch. Hoffman's book, written 15 years post-breast cancer treatment, may be just too far removed to remember the gritty parts. I wanted a book that talked about waking up in the dark and re-remembering that you’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer. I wanted a book that stared in the face of the drive to the hospital on the morning of your surgery, a book that did not look away from sutures and drains, and the biggest needles you’ve ever seen. A book that talked about the way you lose touch with time and your brain when you’re on post-operative pain medication. A book that dedicated space to the patients who spend their time in the chemotherapy infusion room completely alone. I wanted more ‘brave on the page,’ more truth and less shimmer. I do also recognize, that in a fragile state, for example facing a recent diagnosis, shimmer is all you can take. In the final chapter, Choose Love, Hoffman fears she will never get past this single experience. An acclaimed novelist, Hoffman fears that every character she writes henceforth will have cancer. Her oncologist assured her that "eventually it wouldn’t be the main character who had cancer, it would be the grandmother, then the best friend, then the distant cousin, the neighbor and finally the stranger down the block. Your sorrow will become smaller, like a star in the daylight you can’t even see. It’s there, shining, but there is also a vast expanse of blue sky." Those are the words we all want to hear about our particular sorrows. "Survival Lessons" is a beautiful object, slender and small, with lovely images, a brownie recipe and directions to knit a hat. It would be a wonderful thing to tuck into a basket along with a tureen of soup, a candle, a perfect rock, and list of movie recommendations for a friend going through treatment, or struggling through any life trauma.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    This is a book to read to remind one's self that no matter how dark things get, there is always a better way and a different way of looking at things. So this is more of a road map for those in physical or mental distress who cannot figure out which way to go. My favorite part of this novel was actually the prologue when Hoffman talks about her heroes, Anne Frank who always found something bright even in darkness and her own mother. It made this rather common sense book a little more special.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Laurie

    There are many things in these short chapters that we all need to hear periodically, even if we aren't dealing with cancer.. Like don't worry about how you look because no one looks great all the time and everyone looks older as they age. And do things you enjoy everyday even if they seem like a waste of time or others don't see the point. We each only have one life to live and it's yours. These pieces of advice sound trite, like a Hallmark card we've all read enough times. But Hoffman wrote thi There are many things in these short chapters that we all need to hear periodically, even if we aren't dealing with cancer.. Like don't worry about how you look because no one looks great all the time and everyone looks older as they age. And do things you enjoy everyday even if they seem like a waste of time or others don't see the point. We each only have one life to live and it's yours. These pieces of advice sound trite, like a Hallmark card we've all read enough times. But Hoffman wrote this to herself as she was going through chemotherapy for breast cancer to remind herself that life is still worth living. These are reminders each of us needs at one time or another as life gets tough. I don't need advice like this everyday or when I've just won an award or a bonus. I need it when someone I love has hurt me or I have hurt them, or when I am in despair over whatever bad event is weighing me down and life sucks. She reminds us that life does suck sometimes but the good things and people in our lives are still there if we let them be.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    Survival Lessons by Alice Hoffman is a slim, light volume packed with valuable insight on how to survive the worst days of your life. A cancer survivor of 15 years, Hoffman shares her wisdom and reminds the reader to appreciate life's beauty that remains and surrounds us. Down-to-earth, simple & doable advice appears on every page. " You can't run away by ignoring the truth. Truth follows you; it comes in through open windows, and drifts under the door." Those who have suffered from a life alter Survival Lessons by Alice Hoffman is a slim, light volume packed with valuable insight on how to survive the worst days of your life. A cancer survivor of 15 years, Hoffman shares her wisdom and reminds the reader to appreciate life's beauty that remains and surrounds us. Down-to-earth, simple & doable advice appears on every page. " You can't run away by ignoring the truth. Truth follows you; it comes in through open windows, and drifts under the door." Those who have suffered from a life altering illness will find this little guidebook helpful, as well as those who wonder how best to help someone going through cancer treatment. How to help? Hoffman advises that a listening ear, a hug, a freshly baked pie, are just right. And, all you need to say, is that they are loved. " It's never too late to know that love is all you need. " Highly recommended.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Alena

    I read this in under an hour and now I want to run out and buy 10 copies to have on hand for when friends need this little book of wisdom. I think Alice Hoffman would be a wonderful friend.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    I find myself wanting to tell friends, family and complete strangers to read this quick but pretty powerful book. Very uplifting

  15. 5 out of 5

    Deanna

    A short, brisk, personable read. Memoir/self development. Could have been cliche but instead was wise and engaging. I’ll return to this again.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    Sometimes you select a book - and sometimes it selects you. I was up late, looking for some relief from the anxiety that accompanies the sleeplessness of a night before a CT scan, and scrolled somewhat listlessly through my e-book collection. I briefly considered buying yet another book, even though I have several dozen that I haven't even begun to read. As a matter of fact, some of them had been sitting around on my digital shelf long enough that I had no idea what they were about. Almost rando Sometimes you select a book - and sometimes it selects you. I was up late, looking for some relief from the anxiety that accompanies the sleeplessness of a night before a CT scan, and scrolled somewhat listlessly through my e-book collection. I briefly considered buying yet another book, even though I have several dozen that I haven't even begun to read. As a matter of fact, some of them had been sitting around on my digital shelf long enough that I had no idea what they were about. Almost randomly, I popped open Alice Hoffman's tiny but powerful Survival Lessons. And I read it straight through, listening to Grieg with a smile on my face and some joy in my heart. She didn't really say much that I hadn't already thought of on my own or heard from someone wonderful or read before. But she wrapped all of these simple and profound little ideas up into a perfect little package. It was just what I needed. It reassured me that the decisions I've made over the past year and a half as I've dealt with cancer - that I've made the right ones. Love the people who love you. Watch your favorite shows. Make a bucket list, get a puppy, eat chocolate with vigor. Leave behind the people who haven't been there for you, and do it without malice. Love is the answer. Make a plan to survive. This is the perfect book for anyone in the midst of crisis, or just emerging from one. It doesn't demand much of the reader, so it's nice for people burdened by all kinds of medicines or the inability to concentrate. But it has plenty to give away. It's charming and calming and friendly and sensible. It acknowledges fear and loss but compels you gently not to dwell on them. It lights a little candle in your aching, tired heart. Thank you, Alice Hoffman.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Katherine

    Sorrow comes in many forms, and Alice Hoffman's experience battling cancer and the wisdom she shares in this book after surviving it can apply to anyone carrying a burden of grief. Her words are conversational, wise and hopeful. In fact, this entire little book serves as a reminder that despite loss and heartache there is great beauty and joy in life--we must simply be willing to see it, to claim it for our own. Here are a handful of quotes that particularly struck me. ~Because we were Russian, sa Sorrow comes in many forms, and Alice Hoffman's experience battling cancer and the wisdom she shares in this book after surviving it can apply to anyone carrying a burden of grief. Her words are conversational, wise and hopeful. In fact, this entire little book serves as a reminder that despite loss and heartache there is great beauty and joy in life--we must simply be willing to see it, to claim it for our own. Here are a handful of quotes that particularly struck me. ~Because we were Russian, sadness came naturally to us. But so did reading. In my family, a book was a life raft. ~In a novel, you'll find yourself in a world of possibilities. You'll find shelter there. ~Now I know what she wanted from me on the day she told me she was afraid. It was exactly what I wanted when I had cancer and I thought I was going to die. I should have sat down next to her, put my arms around her, and told her that I loved her. That's all anyone wants. It took me a long time to figure this out. It's a complicated human puzzle. But it's never too late to know that love is all you need. ~Your sorrow will become smaller, like a star in the daylight that you can't even see. It's there, shining, but there is also a vast expanse of blue sky.” ~When you help others, your own troubles aren't as heavy. In fact, you can fold them like a handkerchief and place them in your pocket. They're still there, but they're not the only thing you carry. Highly recommended, especially for those who may presently feel overwhelmed with sorrow.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    In the past year I've lost one uncle I cared about greatly, two I didn't care so much about, two high school friends, watched others struggle with life and health, and struggled with those things myself. Usually those thin books of "helpful words" make me roll my eyes and cringe but this book? I want to buy a copy for everyone I know. We all know that we should carpe diem, but Hoffman's wonderful prose and suggestions (I so want to take her trip to Italy for her! or with her!) brings it home just In the past year I've lost one uncle I cared about greatly, two I didn't care so much about, two high school friends, watched others struggle with life and health, and struggled with those things myself. Usually those thin books of "helpful words" make me roll my eyes and cringe but this book? I want to buy a copy for everyone I know. We all know that we should carpe diem, but Hoffman's wonderful prose and suggestions (I so want to take her trip to Italy for her! or with her!) brings it home just that little bit more. Some of the ideas may even give you permission to do what you've wanted to but didn't know how, like "choosing your relatives". If nothing else, you'll learn how to make the perfect boiled egg. Copy provided by publisher.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Mariah

    This book was okay. I read it because I like Alice Hoffman. I'm probably going a bit easy on the book as a result. It's not that this book was bad-- it wasn't. It's just been written before. Eat your dessert first, take the trip you've always wanted, dream big. Learn to knit, join a support group, throw a party. Carpe diem. Her lessons were true, and they were good-- but I didn't find this to be presented in a particularly new or profound way. But like many things, simple can be good. I just wishe This book was okay. I read it because I like Alice Hoffman. I'm probably going a bit easy on the book as a result. It's not that this book was bad-- it wasn't. It's just been written before. Eat your dessert first, take the trip you've always wanted, dream big. Learn to knit, join a support group, throw a party. Carpe diem. Her lessons were true, and they were good-- but I didn't find this to be presented in a particularly new or profound way. But like many things, simple can be good. I just wished I'd waited to enjoy these simple lessons in paperback. It seems like this was very cathartic for Alice. I hope it was.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Donna

    Do yourself a favor and read this book. It took me about an hour but it is a little gem of a book. Meant for women dealing with serious illness, it is actually a survival guide for those dealing with life. Inspiring and thought provoking about what is truly important, and how to make the most out of each and every day that we have. I borrowed it from the library but plan to buy a copy so that I can re-read at certain times and remind myself to celebrate the fortune of good health.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jackie Lane

    This is a warm and uplifting book about how to look at life when bad things happen. Alice Hoffman was diagnosed with breast cancer 15 years ago and this is a book of how she views life, what she learned, what would or did help her and just her fabulous outlook on life. This is the sort of book that you want to give to someone who is dealing a loss, tragedy or health issue.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    This little blue and white treasure of a book was filled with so much joy, love and sadness that I nearly cried my way through all eighty-three pages of it...loved it!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Joanne

    I knew I'd like this one when I saw Allison's rating; I've liked all AH novels that I've read. This small collection of lessons is uplifting. I'm always inspired by people who look for positive moments and ways to help others during, or in spite of, their own dark or painful times.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Mariah

    Not at all a novel- not what I expected. Hoffman dubs this a ‘guidebook’ in saying “All the while I was in treatment I was looking for a guidebook. I needed help in my new situation. I needed to know how people survived trauma.” When my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer 5 years ago, I said something of the sort. I wanted something to tell me the truth: none of the rainbows and sugar coated bullshit one sees in the oncologists offices or infusion centers. None of the inspirational talk show Not at all a novel- not what I expected. Hoffman dubs this a ‘guidebook’ in saying “All the while I was in treatment I was looking for a guidebook. I needed help in my new situation. I needed to know how people survived trauma.” When my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer 5 years ago, I said something of the sort. I wanted something to tell me the truth: none of the rainbows and sugar coated bullshit one sees in the oncologists offices or infusion centers. None of the inspirational talk show crap. I wanted to know what was going to happen to my mother. What to expect from her treatments. And how to process this as a third party. This work is indeed a guidebook- mainly for someone going through treatment but also for those of us who are right beside someone dealing with that horrible curse. I cried no less than once per ‘rule’, each one as solid and steadfast in truth as the last. So very relatable and beautifully realistic. Thank you, Alice Hoffman. This made me love you even more.

  25. 4 out of 5

    DebsD

    Without wishing to minimise Hoffman's personal experience or her own ways of coping with illness...I didn't get much out of this book. There is some lovely writing, and a few insights that resonated with me: I would also want to invite Emily Dickinson, even though it is said that at some point she only spoke to callers through her bedroom door. That makes me love her all the more because I often feel exactly the same and want to hide away. The truth is, some of your closest friends may disappear d Without wishing to minimise Hoffman's personal experience or her own ways of coping with illness...I didn't get much out of this book. There is some lovely writing, and a few insights that resonated with me: I would also want to invite Emily Dickinson, even though it is said that at some point she only spoke to callers through her bedroom door. That makes me love her all the more because I often feel exactly the same and want to hide away. The truth is, some of your closest friends may disappear during your most difficult times. These people have their own history and traumas; they may not be able to deal with yours. They may belong to the before. But the bulk of the book was things that have been said before, many times, and advice that is at best privileged, at worst slightly dodgy (if you have a potentially fatal illness, acquire a puppy?)

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kathryn

    When Alice Hoffman was diagnosed with breast cancer 15 years ago she began looking for some sort of book to guide her during this time, some insights, some thoughts on survival. She found nothing. So here she is 15 years later writing a book for others. The last paragraph in the Preface she says "We all experience trauma and we all take a very personal path to healing on our own terms. But we're also alike in what we need most. Love really is the answer. I received so many gifts from friends and When Alice Hoffman was diagnosed with breast cancer 15 years ago she began looking for some sort of book to guide her during this time, some insights, some thoughts on survival. She found nothing. So here she is 15 years later writing a book for others. The last paragraph in the Preface she says "We all experience trauma and we all take a very personal path to healing on our own terms. But we're also alike in what we need most. Love really is the answer. I received so many gifts from friends and strangers during my time of loss. I hope this book can be my gift to you." A gift it is with recipes, a pattern to knit a cap, books she reread and chapters with titles Choose to Enjoy Yourself and Choose to Love Who You Are. Eighty-three pages everyone should read and digest for themselves.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Vikk Simmons

    Alice Hoffman is a fine writer and a personal favorite. So it wouldn't be any surprise to learn that her latest release Survival Lessons is well-written. What may be a surprise is that it is such a short work (95 pages) and not fiction. As a reader, you have to love anyone who says, as Hoffman does,"In my family, a book can be a life raft." And that is precisely what Hoffman wants to provide for her readers. Drawing from her years of battling cancer and experiencing loss, Hoffman reveals the how Alice Hoffman is a fine writer and a personal favorite. So it wouldn't be any surprise to learn that her latest release Survival Lessons is well-written. What may be a surprise is that it is such a short work (95 pages) and not fiction. As a reader, you have to love anyone who says, as Hoffman does,"In my family, a book can be a life raft." And that is precisely what Hoffman wants to provide for her readers. Drawing from her years of battling cancer and experiencing loss, Hoffman reveals the how and the whys of the lessons she has learned. I think she succeeded.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Janine

    As always, Ms. Hoffman mines the truths of our lives and did so in her own. She made me cry at times, especially when her distillation rang like Waterford. While I'm no wimp in facing mortality, she reminded me of joys in the process and joys in pushing away the inevitable. Laughed out loud when she connected her first dog Houdini with what she needed in a husband. Afterward I enjoyed spinach lasagna for dinner with apple-cranberry coconut crumble for dessert. Life's short. Read well, eat well, As always, Ms. Hoffman mines the truths of our lives and did so in her own. She made me cry at times, especially when her distillation rang like Waterford. While I'm no wimp in facing mortality, she reminded me of joys in the process and joys in pushing away the inevitable. Laughed out loud when she connected her first dog Houdini with what she needed in a husband. Afterward I enjoyed spinach lasagna for dinner with apple-cranberry coconut crumble for dessert. Life's short. Read well, eat well, find joy where you may.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Putnam

    A beautiful little gem that I devoured in one sitting.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kristen Freiburger

    At my marina's little free library I found this tiny book wedged between a huge James Patterson and Janet Evanovich. Glad I picked it up because it's a "good reminder" of a book!

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